A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Marist Alternative Education

Marist Alt Ed Sister Sian Owen

By Sr Siân Owen rsj

North Shore, Auckland

Marist Alternative Education is hidden away in a commercial block on Auckland’s North Shore. It is a place where education happens in an alternative space and in an alternative style. Initially, the centre was coordinated and staffed by Marist Brothers, impelled by the charism of Marcellin Champagnat that no child be left uneducated. It is now staffed by lay people and governed by a volunteer Board including members of the order.

The Centre is dedicated to providing students disengaged from mainstream education with a second chance at achieving their potential. While acknowledging the journeys and hurts the young people have experienced, staff at the centre work with students and their families to ensure that they have more positive experiences of education. With the skills and confidence gained from time at the centre it is hoped students will move on to apprenticeships, work or return to mainstream schooling. Many do.

The Centre is dedicated to providing  students ... with a second chance

The worm farm

The worm farm

Students concentrate on achieving at their highest potential and aim to complete the requirements of NCEA literacy and numeracy. However, the learning at Marist Alternative Education is holistic. It is not just about gaining credits, but learning how to develop as a happy, open individual with a love of learning and the skills of resilience. A wide range of activities are incorporated into the learning programme to facilitate this, including the care of the Centre’s worm farm. Through this students are able to learn the value of reducing their environmental impact, as well as caring for another living being.

In today’s ever-changing, technological world, young people are bombarded with so much information that it’s difficult to filter through it. Part of the MAE philosophy is to guide students to critical thinking and an understanding of the safe and just ways to use technology.

Pope Francis, in a 2015 radio interview, told educators, “You must not teach just content, but the values and customs of life. A computer can teach content. Instead there are things that you must transmit: how to love, how to understand which values and customs create harmony in society.” This is a philosophy shared in spirit and action by Marist Alternative Education.

and caring for it ...

and caring for it ...

The government provides 50% of the cost of running the Centre, so just as the early Marist Brothers raised money for their schools through endeavours such as making nails, so too the Centre looks for initiatives to raise additional funds to provide alternative education.

Marist Alt Ed Poem

Tagged as: , ,

Comments are closed.